Open Letter from Nicolas de Torrente, Executive Director of Medicines Sans Frontieres, to Fred Hassan, CEO of the Pharmacia Corporation

April 17, 2001

Fred Hassan
Chief Executive Officer
Pharmacia Corporation
100 Route 206 North
Peapack, New Jersey 07977

Sent Via Facsimile Transmission to (908) 901-8379 and Via U.S. Mail

Dear Mr. Hassan,

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), together with 250,000 individuals and organizations from over 130 countries around the world that signed a global petition, urges Pharmacia to immediately withdraw from the lawsuit against the South African government over its Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act (Act 90 of 1997). From Nairobi and Dakar to Bolivia and the U.S., from Madrid and Bangkok to France and Senegal, people have been declaring their condemnation of Merck's role in blocking South Africa's efforts to gain access to life-saving medicines for its people.

The court case, which re-opens tomorrow in Pretoria, continues to outrage concerned citizens and political leaders around the world. As you may be aware, in the six weeks that the court postponed the case to allow the Pharmaceutical Manufacturer's Association to provide evidence defending their high prices, 30,000 more people have died of AIDS-related causes in South Africa, the vast majority of whom did not have access to life-saving medicines. This is simply indefensible.

We call on you to heed the calls made by Director General of the World Health Organization Gro Harlem Brundtland; U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters; the 626 members of the European Parliament; and dozens of other political leaders to support rather than impede South Africa's efforts to improve access to essential medicines. We demand that you withdraw immediately and unconditionally from the lawsuit, and further ask that you publicly commit to refraining from any further actions that jeopardize access to medicines in the developing world.

We trust that you will not ignore this plea made by hundreds of thousands around the world. We look forward to receiving your response.


Nicolas de Torrente
Executive Director

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